The Toutiao post has gained more than 2,400 likes and nearly 200 comments, and the same news photo with similar claims has been shared widely across China.
A post on another web forum, Baidu Tieba, suggested Johnson could not afford a new pair of shoes due to the bleak economy in the United Kingdom. It said he looked embarrassed about the condition of his footwear.
Another tweet said Johnson bought the “broken” shoes from a “bogus luxury brand” in China. Other user reactions included some sympathetic comments and even praises for being a “down-to-earth leader.”
However, the reason Johnson took off his shoes was not because they broke.
AFP said in the caption that the picture was taken when Johnson was entering the Gandhi Ashram.
A news report on YouTube by India Today shows Bhupendra Patel, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a state in western India, has taken off his shoes along with Johnson outside the ashram.
According to Indian culture and tradition, it is customary to remove one’s shoes before entering a sacred place such as a temple or a home.
Sabarmati Ashram, also referred to as the Gandhi Ashram, once served as the residence of political leader Mahatma Gandhi as well as the main center for the Indian freedom struggle during the 1920s.
The common practice of removing footwear before entering the ashram is meant to protect the purity and cleanliness of the place.